PLUG OK license plate
Toyota's first "official" extended response on plug-in hybrids
Aug 16, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
CalCars-News
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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This message, coming to CalCars News Subscribers by email, is also archived at: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/­group/­calcars-news/­message/­106

Toyota has responded in changing ways to journalists' questions about plug-in hybrids (we've been tracking them and we'll soon have a new roundup).

Last Friday a member of the Yahoo Gridable-Hybrids group received the email below from Group Vice President, Corporate Communications, Toyota Motor Sales. This carefully composed overview repeats their two remaining objections:

  1. An electric vehicle isn't cleaner than a gasoline vehicle on the national grid (see section 3, http://www.calcars.org/­vehicles.html for response)
  2. Batteries require significant further development (see http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/­group/­priusplus/­message/­468 for CalCars Tech Lead Ron Gremban's analysis)

From: Irv_Miller@...
Date & Time: 2005-08-12 06:56:01 -07:00

Thank you for your communication regarding plug-in hybrids. Like you, we at Toyota are very interested in this technology. It is something we are studying for the future as one avenue to adding diversity to the transportation energy mix. Plug-in hybrids can further reduce petroleum consumption, improve fuel economy, possibly ease our dependence on foreign oil and potentially lower greenhouse gas emissions.

That said, we also recognize that there are limitations to plug-in hybrids. As you well know, the true environmental impact of a plug-in depends on the source of the electrical charge. Coal-burning power plants do not lessen the greenhouse gas production and criteria pollutants increase. Secondly, to create a vehicle that meets consumers' needs, a breakthrough in battery technology in regard to capacity, durability and cost, is necessary. Outside experts predict this isn't likely to happen this decade.

In the meantime, we are strongly committed to our hybrid technology which offers a great balance of reduced petroleum consumption, improved fuel economy, cleanest criteria pollutants and driving pleasure at a price people can afford. We have such confidence in hybrids' durability and reliability that Toyota is looking to increase the number of gas-electric hybrids on the road. We have 10 hybrids under development globally now and by early next decade it's conceivable that 25 percent of the vehicles we sell here in the United States will have hybrid powertrains.

Hybrid technology, like the Hybrid Synergy Drive system in our Prius, is taking on a new role in car culture. While hot rodders used to soup up their engines and pour on the chrome, they're now tinkering with computers to maximize their fuel mileage. It's a whole new passion for auto enthusiasts.

We share that spirit of making the most cost-effective and most environmentally responsible vehicles possible. Thank you for your encouragement to continue our pursuit.

Irv Miller
Group Vice President, Corporate Communications
Toyota Motor Sales, Inc
19001 S. Western Ave.
Torrance, CA 90509
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